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News and Features

Key: Meeting M      Journal J      Funder F

Feature Story
A recipe for birds: 50 million years of dinosaur shrinking
To give us birds as we know them today, the line of dinosaurs that evolved into birds shrank in body size continuously for 50 million years, a new study in the Aug. 1 issue of Science reports.

Contact: Science Press Package
American Association for the Advancement of Science

Feature Story
Slanted solar systems surprise scientists
It's well known that the planets, moons, asteroids and other objects in our solar system orbit the sun in a more-or-less perfectly flat, disc-like motion, like a spinning CD. But is this true for other solar systems in the universe? The answer is yes, mostly. But there are a few exceptions where solar systems are born totally wonky!

Contact: Sarah Eve Roberts
Leiden University

Feature Story
ScratchJr: Coding for kindergarten
ScratchJr, a free iPad app, has been released this week by researchers at the MIT Media Lab, Tufts University, and Playful Invention Company. With ScratchJr, children ages 5 to 7 can program their own interactive stories and games. In the process, they learn how to create and express themselves with the computer, not just interact with it.

Contact: Katie Cinnamond Benoit
Tufts University

Feature Story
Wonders of the deep sea
US scientist Andrew Thurber got an international team of researchers together to tell everyone about the deep sea, and why we should protect it.

Contact: Barbara Ferreira
European Geosciences Union

Breaking News
Unique images bring fossil insects back to life
A groundbreaking new book that brings together two of the major disciplines behind 'Jurassic Park' is aiming to raise the profile of insect fossils through stunning photographs and unique illustrations.

Contact: Morwenna Grills
University of Manchester

Feature Story
Satellites and sea ice
A team of scientists lead by the American Ian Eisenman has suggested that the amount of sea ice in the Antarctic may not have been increasing as fast as people had thought.

Contact: Barbara Ferreira
European Geosciences Union

Breaking News
Why do dogs smell each other's behinds? Chemical communication explained (video)
Here at Reactions, we ask the tough questions to get to the bottom of the biggest scientific quandaries. In that spirit, this week's video explains why dogs sniff each other's butts. It's a somewhat silly question with a surprisingly complex answer. This behavior is just one of many interesting forms of chemical communication in the animal kingdom. Find out more at

Contact: Michael Bernstein
American Chemical Society

Breaking News
Smarter than a first-grader?
In Aesop's fable about the crow and the pitcher, a thirsty bird happens upon a vessel of water, but when he tries to drink from it, he finds the water level out of his reach. Not strong enough to knock over the pitcher, the bird drops pebbles into it -- one at a time -- until the water level rises enough for him to drink his fill.

Contact: Andrea Estrada
University of California - Santa Barbara

Breaking News
Journal of Cognition and Culture
How children categorize living things
'Name everything you can think of that is alive.' How would a child respond to this question? Would his or her list be full of relatives, animals from movies and books, or perhaps neighborhood pets? Would the poppies blooming on the front steps make the list or the oak tree towering over the backyard? The children's responses revealed clear convergences among distinct communities but also illuminated differences among them.

Contact: Hilary Hurd Anyaso
Northwestern University

Breaking News
International Journal of Obesity
The 92 percent clean plate club
If you're a member of the Clean Plate Club -- you eat pretty much everything you put on your plate -- you're not alone! A new Cornell University study shows that the average adult eats 92 percent of whatever he or she puts on his or her plate. 'If you put it on your plate, it's going into your stomach,' says Brian Wansink Ph.D., author of the forthcoming book, 'Slim by Design,' professor of marketing and director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab.

Contact: Sandra Cuellar
Cornell Food & Brand Lab

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